View the full press call here.
ATLANTA, Ga. — As the nation prepares for the daunting task of inoculating tens of millions of Americans from COVID-19 in the next few months, Georgia physicians today called on U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to immediately pass a pandemic relief plan that includes robust vaccination distribution funding. The doctors called for Sens. Perdue and Loeffler to act as drug makers began distributing vaccines across the nation this weekend, with Georgia’s two U.S. senators still refusing to approve a long-stalled relief plan that includes resources to help get Georgians vaccinated. According to the medical journal The Lancet, upwards of 80 percent of a population should get vaccinated in the initial phase to develop population immunity.
“To turn the corner on this pandemic, Georgia needs a massive public education, community outreach and distribution program for vaccines that can protect people and save lives, yet Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue continue to drag their feet while Georgians suffer,” said Dr. Kate Miele, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Atlanta. “As physicians, we understand the challenges that go into vaccinating people, especially when we need to vaccinate millions of people in a few short months. We have a narrow window to get this critical phase in the fight against the pandemic right. We know Sens. Perdue and Loeffler are busy trying to keep their jobs in the Senate, but they should be doing their current jobs for the people of Georgia. For months, they have refused to provide relief to healthcare workers, Georgia families and small businesses, and we need them to step up now so we can successfully implement a vaccine program that can protect and save lives.”
The physicians blasted Senate Republicans, including Sens. Loeffler and Perdue, for refusing to immediately pass a relief package that would provide comprehensive resources for vaccine distribution, outreach and communications and address the two biggest challenges: Delivery and distribution at the state and local levels, and community outreach and communications to encourage people to actually get vaccinated. Meanwhile, the physicians criticized Sens. Loeffler and Perdue for being caught up in allegations of insider stock trading that allowed them to benefit financially from the pandemic.
“Throughout this pandemic, physicians have been concerned that Sens. Perdue and Loeffler have taken their eyes off the ball.” said Dr. Henry Kahn, a retired primary care physician, general internist and epidemiologist in Atlanta. “Instead of focusing on this deadly pandemic, they have been distracted with allegations of their insider stock trading that allowed them to reap massive profits from the pandemic. They should be focused on getting healthcare workers and local public health professionals the resources we need to get people vaccinated and help them survive.”
To achieve population immunity, between 460 million to 620 million vaccine doses would need to be distributed nationwide. Eight of every 10 people would need to be vaccinated to effectively build immunity from COVID-19, when only 35 percent of Georgians said they were likely to get vaccinated. At the same time, already underfunded states are short billions of dollars in funding needed to successfully vaccinate people by the target June deadline. Costs for a vaccination campaign range between $6 billion and $13 billion, while only $340 million has been distributed to states and local entities for vaccine distribution. A relief proposal to provide billions of dollars for a national vaccine campaign remains stalled in the U.S. Senate. A group of senators has urged Congress to provide a “bare minimum of $8.4 billion” for a vaccine campaign. Sens. Perdue and Loeffler did not sign the letter, and have refused to approve legislation that has already passed the U.S. House to provide $28 billion for vaccine efforts.
“A vaccine alone isn’t much good without actual vaccinations happening, and so far Sens. Loeffler and Perdue have been missing in action in this critical stage of the fight against the pandemic,” said Dr. Anurag Sahu, a cardiologist in Atlanta. “Instead they participate in rallies that exceed CDC guidelines and are consistently flouting mask-wearing policies. Their general mistrust in science has directly led to a mistrust by the general population of this vaccine. We’ll let legal experts weigh in whether Sens. Loeffler and Perdue should place their stocks in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. As physicians, we are calling on them to get to work immediately and pass a relief plan that will give physicians, nurses and public health workers the resources we need to protect our fellow Americans, get them vaccinated and deliver on the promise of hope.”
Sens. Loeffler and Perdue are both embroiled in a scandal involving stock trades that appear to have been made based on insider knowledge related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Perdue’s suspicious stock purchases include buying stock worth $260,000 in Pfizer, which is one of the first drug makers to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine, and purchasing stock in a financial technology company where he once served on the board at one of its lowest prices but whose CEO described the COVID-19 pandemic as “playing in our favor.” Bought at $30 a share in March, Sen. Perdue’s stock in Cardlytics was worth $138 on Monday. Sen. Loeffler sold millions in stock after she got a private briefing about COVID-19, while she and her husband then bought stock in companies that focused on teleworking and mortgage financing, two areas of the economy that are seeing upticks during the pandemic, as well as companies that stood to benefit from federal pandemic bailouts.
Echoing legal and other experts, the physicians said Sens. Loeffler and Perdue — and all federal elected officials — should move their financial interests to a blind trust to avoid acting to enrich themselves or conflicts of interest.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, December 16, 2020